GLASS RIFLE
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GLASS RIFLE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
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While many bands current take on stars of old result in a shiny, glistening production that can be as sickly as it is slippery, Glass Rifle embody a primitive, grimy discharge that feels like it couldn’t really exist anywhere other than a rotting basement in the 1980’s.

It’s Mission of Burma meets early Sonic Youth and while it’s certainly not cracking, let alone breaking new ground, it does exude a degree of genuine punch and something feels fiercely independent about it. Most interestingly is the production and recording technique, it feels so rooted in DIY, underground 80’s punk that it really is astonishing that it was created today. While this double A-side is a nostalgic reflection on sonic assaults of old, there is certainly enough bubbling under the surface to justify keeping an eye on these lot. - GLASSWERK


Glass Rifle may be based in Williamsburg, but you'll be hard-pressed to lump them together with the popular indie rock acts that have come out of the neighborhood. To put it simply, the British-American three-piece is straight-up punk. I'm not talking about modern punk, which has a more mainstream appeal (i.e. Green Day, Against Me!). This is a band that isn't willing to compromise.

"It can provoke people, or turn them off completely… I don't mind," says guitarist PJ Norman, discussing the group's Foebic/Cutters single. "We just do what we do, people can get what they like out of it." The release is the group's first, following a couple of lineup changes. While bassist Dan Colby and drummer Ryan Francini had been playing together in the Boston DIY scene, the band started coming together when Norman moved from London to New York in 2009. They were briefly a four-piece before one of the members moved to Italy, leading them to strip down their sound and turn into the trio that exists today.

Once you listen to their EP, stripped-down feels like an appropriate term. There's no fancy production here. No strings or synths- just guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. Musically, both "Foebic" and "Cutters" are direct, in-your-face type of tunes that don't need fancy gimmicks to grab your attention. They know they'll have it from the start.

"Foebic" starts off with a couple of gentle guitar plucks before light drum taps build it up to an explosion of fuzzed-out, rapid rock. Things slow down a fraction for the chorus, but besides that, this track blazes by without giving you a second to catch your breath. Lyrically, the song fits into a politically-anarchic mindset. "The state's on fire/Start it again, start it again/This light starts nations/Get away, get away."

On the other hand, the melody in "Cutters" is a little slower and easier to latch on to. An incredibly catchy chorus repeats "Anyone, anywhere, anything out there" in a way that people can quickly learn and shout back over the course of three minutes. Out of the two numbers, this is definitely the stronger piece. "[It] was built on ideas that Dan and Ryan had been throwing around for years," Norman says. "The final arrangement came about when we got into it as a three-piece."

By including both an older and a newer track, Glass Rifle's EP succeeds in showing the multiple sides this band has to offer. Combine their energy with the production team of Jay Braun (Cat Power, Elliot Smith) as well as Warren Russell-Smith (Rolling Stones, Tim Buckley) and you have a double-sided single that's impossible to ignore.

So what's next for the band? As Norman sums it up, "Ryan [Francini] just blew his bass cab, so I guess we have to fix that first… Next year we are releasing an EP, Battle Hymns. "Foebic" and "Cutters" will be on that too, along with four new tracks. Right now we are mixing that with Jay [Braun] and working on a music video to go with it, filmed by the amazingly talented photographer Diana Scheunemann."

Sounds like a busy year but with Glass Rifle's DIY attitude and face-blasting sound, it looks like it'll be a successful one as well. - CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND


It goes without saying that the packaging on any single, especially when dealing with digital CD’s, is going to be the most important part of that first impression. That’s definitely the case with 100m Records “digital” single by Glass Rifle.

The Letterpressed folded over sleeve by Letter from Brooklyn gives the sterile CD a homemade place to live. On the front, two color graphics of pure anarchy, the capital has fallen, the British and American flags are just about engulfed in flames....which probably has something to do with band members coming together from both sides of the Atlantic. It’s just so damn nice, they not only use the letter press to bury the image in the recycled card stock but there are flames, not even inked, embossed under the entire main image. Both sides are riveted together making it not only super handmade but labor intensive I’m sure...if someone went to these lengths to put this out, it deserves your time.

It also hints at Glass Rifle’s DIY hardcore roots.
Why am I going to have to compare this to Fugazi? Because they set the standard for intelligent post hardcore for twenty-something years. It’s something that you can obviously hear in Glass Rifle’s deliberate complex changes. You can hear it in the skill of executing something greater than just an outlet for the disenfranchised. When you actually can move beyond the simple initial idea and bring an understanding of music history, combined with even loftier political vocals, it all comes together in classic ways on something like “Cutters”.
But it even goes as far back as early Husker Du in sheer energy. But there’s a fine line of sounding over the top and just bringing the angry, and is that going to even work if you aren’t 18? They hit the mark of authenticity and sincerity. There’s a long lineage of the members previous bands at work here, and their experiences have all evolved into Glass Rifle.

Foebic, the first track waits for a quick rim shot rhythm to build the layers of distortion melody. The great call and response vocals give it an undeniable post hardcore feel...the vocals are mic’d in a room, flat, there’s not even layering except when the other members step up to yell the chorus from the back. The restrained guitar work from PJ Norman goes from precise muted chords and harsh scraping strings to double speed lower end bassline riffs. The direction is always unexpected. I know what you’re thinking and as much as it’s an easy stereotype of the genre, it’s never easy to pull off right. But they pull it off over both tracks. It takes this otherwise one note aggression and forces you to deal with the complexity...or it just overwhelms you.

On “Cutters”, PJ’s ability to sing the vocal melody right before it appears in the bent electric tones is an example of the intricacies involved. When they stop the whole thing in it’s tracks and toms respond to the repeating chorus of “THIS LINE COULD BREAK!”, they’re hardy able to hold themselves back. It’s tight, incredibly crafted and stands alongside any classic American underground sound.
They match the energy lyrically with it’s content about war, and it’s that impossible mix for anyone to get right. To take this aggressive approach and then try to inject some social consciousness? It’s an optimistic stance not to play down to an audience for sure and one I think works. You can peel back the layers and there is more going on underneath.

Both of these tracks are pushing that complex hardcore formula to it’s limits, it’s just an impressive contemporary take on a genre that remains relevant thanks to Glass Rifle. - 7INCHES


With its heavy letter pressed sleeve and short duration, this does feel like the digital equivalent of an old punk 7". Consisting of Dan Colby and Ryan Francini (formally of The Cignal) handling the rhythm section and Fates’ PJ Norman on guitar, these two songs gave me an instant feeling of nostalgia for the early to mid '90s "alternative" scene, before it became known as “indie” and consequently a maligned, pejorative label.

"Foebic," with its rapid fire beats and repetitive bass line creates a very strong rhythmic underpinning, but the noisy guitar treatments for some reason gave an industrial vibe to everything. The result is sort of like early Mission of Burma filtered through the earliest releases on Invisible Records. Somehow it feels very familiar, yet completely new at the same time.

"Cutters" goes less for the dense rhythms and more towards a sparser, song-oriented feel. With an emphasis placed more on the vocals, the result is more "alternative" than "industrial," but carries the same old/new feeling that "Foebic" had.

While these two songs aren't pushing boundaries or re-inventing the wheel, I don’t think that was ever the intention. What’s here is just good old fashioned punk inspired rock that is familiar but never derivative. For anyone who longs for the heyday when Amphetamine Reptile and Touch and Go weren’t just labels, but institutions, this is as inviting as it gets. It’s a terribly short teaser of what will hopefully be more to come. - BRAINWASHED


“Death by Sadie is essentially an underground super group collective framed around the talents of Kris O’Connor and aided and abetted by members of tKatKa and The Montauk Projekt. Limited Edition is a storming stellar soaring slice of swaggering shoe gaze drilled gritted dream pop. Freebasing in the main on early Ride styled hollowing streamlined codas, this sugar laced florescent fancy is equipped with a pulsating driving dynamic at its core within which are housed blood lines tracing back to the fuzz laced bliss laden glazes of My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur JNR and Moose.” - LOSING TODAY


“Boston's punk rock patriots The Explosion make their statement quite clear. Lyrics like "We look to the past, and ask for nothing more" drive home the band's unapologetic point -- sure they wish it was 1977, but they know full well that it isn't. With that in mind, the band's debut LP still sees them tumble through 14 tracks of dirty Clash-styled punk rock in under a half hour -- a performance that would make their forefathers proud. It's simple music and far from mind-blowing lyrics that form the basis of The Explosion's attack, but it's their high-energy attitude that carries their music to the next level. Tracks like "Terrorist" and "God Bless the S.O.S" are short speedy bursts of punk packed with catchy choruses and thick guitars, a recipe that the band often employs and generally finds success with. Flash Flash Flash's to-the-point presentation makes it clear that all this band needed was a little polishing to make a great record. The result is one of the better punk albums to arise from a scene that has already lasted a few more decades than expected.” - ALL MUSIC GUIDE


“Boston's The Huguenots are a quintessential example of a "band before the bands." Comprised of future members of The Explosion, Piebald, and Converge, The Huguenots operated in that grey area where post-hardcore and metal meet. Comparable to other '90s standouts Shotmaker and Frodus, The Huguenots also incorporated doses of math-y guitar work into the mix.” - PLAYBACK


“The Cignal are Dan Colby (ex-drummer for The Explosion) on vocals / guitar, Ben Koller (current Converge) on drums, Patrick Conners on lead guitar, Nick Marcantonio on bass, and Ryan Francini on keyboards. Their inaugural release, Errata/Symptoms conveys the familiar emotions of striving in a time when many experiences prove to be morose. In keeping with independent tradition, The Cignal has released their first single as a limited edition color vinyl. Not only do they try to convey their own perception of life, they are nodding to history as they make their mark on it.” - INSOUND


Discography

2010 - Foebic/Cutters (single) [100m Records]
2011 - Love American Skin (Soundtrack) [100m Records]
2011 - CMJ New Music Sampler (November) [CMJ]
2012 - LP (in production)

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Bio

"Glass Rifle are a sonic battering of dischordant power pop, with killer guitar licks offsetting fierce beats that literally pummel you into submission." - Zolton, Lost At E Minor

"A degree of genuine punch and something feels fiercely independent about it." - Daniel Dylan Wray, Glasswerk

"Early Mission of Burma filtered through the earliest releases on Invisible Records. Somehow it feels very familiar, yet completely new at the same time… For anyone who longs for the heyday when Amphetamine Reptile and Touch and Go weren’t just labels, but institutions, this is as inviting as it gets." - Creaig Dunton, Brainwashed

"Like a Hold Steady raised on London punk and based in Brooklyn, Glass Rifle's delivery stays true to the varied roots of all its members by distorting the relentless energy of British rock with a Williamsburg flair." - Joe Puglisi, Baeble Music

"Moving, unconventional and provocative. Blazing a new trail in contemporary music." - Tony Mastrianni, National Music Writer

"Urgent Post-Punk attack, kicking the living shit out of your ears…in a good way!" - Route For The Underdog

"It’s tight, incredibly crafted and stands alongside any classic American underground sound… Both of these tracks are pushing that complex hardcore formula to it’s limits, it’s just an impressive contemporary take on a genre that remains relevant thanks to Glass Rifle." - Jason Dean, 7Inches

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Glass Rifle are Americans Dan Colby, Ryan Francini, and British-born PJ Norman. The roots of the group lie in the Boston DIY punk scene where Colby and Francini first met. After stints on drums for Hydrahead stalwarts The Huguenots, and Jade Tree Record’s The Explosion, Colby formed The Cignal with Francini. In the mid ‘00s, after a well-received 7”, The Cignal disbanded and both Francini and Colby moved to New York City. It was here, several years later, that they met PJ Norman.

Norman, whose reputation as an electronic producer with the 100m Records Collective is well established (tKatKa, Fates), relished the opportunity to develop the guitar style he had with North London underground act Death By Sadie. Where Death By Sadie was a two guitar four-piece, the power trio format of Glass Rifle really pushes Norman’s striking guitar work to the forefront, enhanced by the intense Colby/Francini rhythm section that clearly displays the pair’s longstanding musical connection.

In early 2010 tracking began on the first Glass Rifle recordings. The Foebic/Cutters single was recorded at Melody Lanes Recording Company in Brooklyn, New York. It was recorded and mixed as a joint effort between the band and Melody Lanes producer Jay Braun (Elliot Smith, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Cat Power). The stunning results were then mastered at The Magic Shop, NYC, by Grammy award winning mastering engineer Warren Russell-Smith (Rolling Stones, Tim Buckley).

The single was released digitally through 100m Records and was accompanied in true DIY style by a limited edition run of 300 exquisitely letter pressed, hand-numbered CDs, designed and printed by Letter From Brooklyn.

In 2011, the song Foebic was used in the soundtrack of the film Love American Skin, directed by renowned photographer Diana Scheunemann. Later in the year, Foebic was also included on the CMJ music sampler supporting Glass Rifle's appearance at the CMJ New Music festival.

Glass Rifle are currently finishing up their debut full-length with the same team that worked their 2010 single. The LP is slated for release July, 2012, and will be accompanied by a video directed by Scheunemann. Four of the tracks on the forthcoming album are featured here in this EPK.